31 Jan. Up at 06:30 to an overcast morning. I now have a breakfast variation adding granola to porridge. Definitely more appealing and more bulk.
Got away at 08:15 behind most and passed Rau and Demelza on the flats heading up to Kiwi Saddle. Not much of a climb, but a 250m decent to Lake Sumner where the trail edges around the lake in the beech forest. Didn’t see much of the lake until I reached the head of the lake and started on the Harper Pass Track towards Hurunui Hut. Three swing bridges crossed the major rivers, so my feet were kept dry on this section. I stopped very briefly at one for a snack but the sandflies were bad so quickly moved on. Arrived at an empty Hurunui Hut at 14:30. Michal, Stephan, Diego and Katrina had passed through, heading for Hurunui No 3 Hut another 10 km further on. 19km in 6:25 hours was enough for me today.
Demelza and Rau arrived so only three of us initially in the hut, and plenty of space to spread out. Made a serious attempt to eat into the pack weight. The girls gave me hard time for having 400g of milk powder! However I managed to offload a small portion to Faye. She arrived about 20:00 having walked all the way in a day from Windy Point, having had a couple of rest days in Hanmer. She is from Ottawa, and is doing the top section of the South Island trail having completed most on the NZ Great Walks on a visit last year. Heavy rain is forecast for Tuesday just as we get to Deception Valley and she like other overseas visitors are worried about river crossings as they haven’t done them before.